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Cracking was discovered in an in-service, second-stage turbine impeller during a downtime inspection. The fabricated 4300 series low-alloy steel impeller was used in a compressor in an industrial petrochemical plant. It was also reported that a process upset had allowed a 10% NaOH solution to be ingested by the unit. Routine magnetic particle inspection revealed numerous cracks in the hub area and vane tips of the second-stage impeller Additionally, the outside surface of the backing plate showed a cyclic pattern of cracks. An overview of a conventional, systematic metallurgical approach to failure analysis to confirm that the cracking was caused by a caustic stress-corrosion cracking mechanism is presented.

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